BOX ONE COMPONENTS TEST
BOX ONE COMPONENTS
New Drivetrain Option Ready for the Trail
It used to be that when you talked about mountain bike drivetrains, there were only two choices: the red company or the blue one. Those were the only reliable and affordable options that you could realistically make an argument for running. Well, the new kid on the block, Box Components, looks to give riders a third option: the orange company. Box Components is taking on the two 800-pound gorillas in the room with a new drivetrain system that, for the first time we can remember, allows riders to build a bike entirely, top to bottom, without using any of the components made from those two mega companies.
Box offers its components with the latest manufacturing techniques and the highest-quality materials. Its design engineers work closely with some of the fastest racers in the world on the World Cup and freeride MTB circuits, and Box’s products have even been used for competition in the Olympics. It’s SoCal racing heritage has brought us this new drivetrain option: the Box One 11-speed drivetrain.
The Box One system comes with an 11-speed shifter and derailleur, which are compatible with nearly every modern bike, from cross-country to enduro. We tested the system with a Box Components cassette and a Raceface crank and chainring setup. Fortunately, the Box system is designed to work with any Shimano part, which means riders could part out any one of the pieces of the complete group so long as the rest of the system were Shimano.
The Box shifter works with its own PushPush system, which works off a single lever—as opposed to Shimano or SRAM systems that use separate ones for up- and downshifting.
On the Trails:
We bolted the Box One drivetrain to our tried-and-true Intense Carbine 29er test bike. The bike was originally equipped with a Shimano 11-speed drivetrain with a double chainring front setup. The components bolted to the bike with ease, as they were compatible with the rest of the Shimano system. With the same time and effort, it would take to install any other high-quality shifting system, the Box shifter and derailleur were shifting like a machine gun and ready to hit the trails.
On the bike, the Box system has a different feel from the Shimano and SRAM systems. The shifter works with only one paddle to do both the up- and downshifting. To downshift, push the lever forward with your thumb, much as with any other system. To upshift, use your thumb or index finger to push the lever inward. The system was easy to get used to after only a few short rides. The detents or “clicks” are heavy and give the rider very positive feedback when shifted. The derailleur follows the shift with a relatively smooth glide over to the next gear.
While the shifting proved precise and crisp, the lever left something to be desired. The shape is thin and sharp and the opposite of ergonomic, especially when pushing for an upshift. Riders may want to take a file to this part to give it a custom feel, since the stock one didn’t impress any of our riders. Since the Box system uses the same shifting ratios as a Shimano system, riders could potentially mate a Box rear derailleur with a Shimano shifter, which, in our opinion, has much better ergonomics.
Our testers had their doubts initially, which is to be expected after becoming so used to one system or another. Talk to anyone at a trailhead about his drivetrain preference and you’ll find that out firsthand with a huge diatribe about why his current setup is absolutely the best and no other can touch it. Box has taken on this hornet’s nest by offering another option to riders, and it really does work. We can attest to that. So, for any rider looking for an option that’s off the beaten path but is also high-quality, easy to install, and offers quick and precise shifting, the Box drivetrain is where it’s at.
• Quick and precise shifting performance
• Easy to install
• Compatible with Shimano cassettes
• Poor ergonomics on the shift lever
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